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A line of about 50 people spilled out into the library's main room, eager to meet Nader, who gave a speech downstairs after the signing. Upon seeing Nader enter the room, a cluster of six reporters spiked to the front of the line and set their recorders down at his table, forming their own shield around him as fans approached one by one. Some local television news techies erected a wall of cameras directly in front of Nader's face as he tried to make small talk with fans.
When the line ended, Nader stood up and acknowledged the press, who in unison zoned in for the close-up with their cameras, tape recorders and microphones in hand.
"Big question is, Ralph, are you going to run for the US Senate?" blurts out a local TV reporter with the first question.
The local media was not there to talk about Nader's new book. They wanted to get down to brass tax and see if the three-time presidential candidate would declare to them that he would challenge Chris Dodd for his Senate seat next year.
"It's premature," said Nader, who acknowledged that there is growing resentment with the two senators who represent the state (Joe Lieberman being the other). People don't agree with how they "represent them on a number of issues, including their pensions, financial crimes and health care," he said
Nader expressed concern with the Senate and the passing of legislature.
"The crisis in the Senate is really the big issue. The Senate is the graveyard of the legislative hopes of the country," he said.
Nader said his declaration to run isn't dependent on just him, but whether people from around the state are going to be willing to work and put together a grassroots campaign. He said it is hard for him at this point to truly gauge the political field for a run. He isn't sure if people want him to run just because they're upset with the two incumbent senators or whether there is an actual force out there that will work in 169 towns in Connecticut.
The one force that could serve as his main vehicle to run a campaign is the Green Party. Two members of the Green Party showed up with signs urging Nader to run here at the library on Friday.
Vic Lancia, a weathered former state worker out of the Department of Labor, walked up to greet the man he has admired since 1967.
"I'm retired, Ralph. I've got good legs to go to work for you," said Lancia. "Give me something to do next year Ralph."
Lancia attended to get Nader to start seriously thinking about a run for the Senate. Asked what difference Nader offers from someone like Dodd, he said Nader wouldn't be penetrated by lobbyist money. Lancia feels the current healthcare bill moving through the House and Senate will still leave millions of uninsured. He favors single-payer healthcare, a system that cuts down costs and extends universal coverage through a single government source, like Medicare.
"The blogosphere is going crazy. This is the most important senate race in the country," said Tim McKee, a national committee person from the Green Party who held a sign saying "Run Ralph, Run."
"He's definitely intriguing," said Danielle Barry of West Hartford, who waited in line at the library.
Although the reporters were hoping to get Nader to admit a run for the Senate (Nader concluded the session with reporters by saying "Must be a slow news day"), the questions they were asking him seemed to suggest otherwise.
"Do you really want to be a US Senator? You say the whole system is broken, so do you want to be a part of that?" asked an Associated Press reporter. Another reporter from Channel 8 asked "What would Ralph Nader lose by running for U.S. Senate?" Nader shrugged it off by simply saying "time."
The conversation then focused on Dodd, the longest serving senator in Connecticut history. Nader says Dodd is very resilient despite facing challengers from his own party in 2010.
"Chris Dodd is very personable and I wouldn't write him off," said Nader. "He has been very concessionary to the banks and relied heavily and successfully on Wall Street contributions."
Nader said the real test for Dodd is seeing how far he'll push for real consumer organization in the Financial Consumer Regulatory bill. Nader proposed the creation of a Financial Consumer Association to Dodd as a non-profit for consumers, investors and savors of financial services to keep a check on banks. If it isn't done Wall Street will control the regulatory agency, he said.
"The test for Sen. Dodd is, as chair of the Banking Committee, (to) sponsor this Financial Consumer Association which does not cost the tax payer anything," said Nader.
Down a floor below, there are no reporters present as Nader talks to a packed room about his new book. He speaks about his crusades to perform real change in Washington by trying to route out corporate lobbyists who began their vice-like grip on both Democrats and Republicans in the 1970s. The Democrats, the party that had high hopes as being a real alternative to the Republicans, ended up being "depreciated" by lobbyist money as well, according to Nader.
"Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!" is a fictional book using real characters. It talks about the wealthiest citizens in our country, like Warren Buffett, assembling a cast of 16 plutocrats who use their power to save America's troubles. To get to the heart of the story, Nader uses fiction to point out certain truths about our modern culture.
"A society that has a lot of justice doesn't need charity," he said.